A College of Charleston computer science professor said the Lowcountry’s availability of commercial property that is not in as high demand as retail storefronts could help recruit tech startups.
By Lauren Ratcliffe
Published Oct. 16, 2012
Commercial real estate brokers heard several indicators of economic growth in the region during the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors’ annual commercial real estate forecast last week.
Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the S.C. State Ports Authority spoke about the urgency of deepening the Charleston Harbor to allow for continued growth in the state. Calling the port the driver of the economy, he said the success of the port determines much of the success of other industries in the area.
“A state with a great port is going to grow above the average,” Newsome said. “If you look at the businesses that have located in the state, they all will tell you that it is because we have a great port.”
Growing the port’s business will allow brokers to lease and sell more space, Newsome added.
“If we can get someone to ship through our port, there is a good chance they will put a facility in our state,” he said. “That’s the way we look at it.”
The manufacturing industry and the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command were also discussed as areas of growth and vibrancy, but the technology sector stole the show and provided brokers an opportunity to increase their business.
Chris Starr, associate professor and head of the computer science department at the College of Charleston, said the industry has been virtually recession-proof and is growing rapidly in the area.
“Recruiting tech companies is becoming a lot easier in Charleston,” Starr said.
Starr said the industry has experienced a shift and that beginning software companies have become inexpensive and potentially lucrative. Finding a place to house these companies is where some of the regions less-sought-after properties could come into play.
“We can find commercial real estate that doesn’t have a storefront that we can put a tech startup in,” he said. “We have an advantage here that we can do brownfield development in our city.”